The All Bangali Youth and Students’ Organisation, a group that works for the rights and welfare of Bengalis across the nation, has sought the intervention of the Chief Election Commissioner over the non-inclusion of a large number of Bengalis living in Jiribam in Manipur in the voter list.
Jiribam, a municipal council in Jiribam district, is located on the state’s western-most boundary, adjoining Cachar district of south Assam, around 53km from Silchar town. According to the 2011 census, Jiribam had a population of 43,838 and is inhabited by various communities like Meitei, Pangal (Meitei Muslims), Naga, Thadou-Kuki, Kabui (Rongmei), Hmar and Bengalis.
Chandan Chatterjee, the organisation’s national president, on Friday said they had submitted a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in New Delhi on Thursday, urging him to take steps to include the names of the Bengalis in Jiribam in the voter list. He said this year over 1,000 Bengalis had applied to get their names included in the voter list of Jiribam constituency through the Election Commission’s portal but over 950 applications were rejected “without any valid justification cited”.
“This is a clear example of discrimination and violation of the constitutional and fundamental rights of the Bengalis living in Jiribam,” Chatterjee said.
In the memorandum, the group sought a response from the Chief Election Commissioner within 15 days. It threatened to launch an agitation if its demand is not met.
Mohammed Ahmed Ali, an executive member of the group’s Manipur state committee, said absence of names in the voter list may cause trouble for the Bengalis in Jiribam. He urged the authorities to immediately deal with the matter. He alleged that though the matter had been taken up with the authorities, including the Manipur chief electoral officer and the Election Commission of India, nothing has been done so far.
He feared that the people whose names remain excluded from the voter list could be branded as “foreigners” in the days ahead and urged the Chief Election Commissioner to “rescue the Bengalis of Jiribam from this precarious situation and initiate prompt measures to get their names included in the voter list.”